A salad, baked sweet potato, or grilled chicken breast makes a great base for a healthy meal. Ensure that your nutritious meal doesn’t take a turn for the worse by watching out for these things that quickly make healthy food unhealthy.
Loading up on sauces
A drizzle of your favorite condiment is a good way to add flavor to food, but don’t use so much that it’s dripping. Cheese sauces and mayonnaise-based spreads can be loaded with calories and unhealthy fat. Ketchup, barbecue sauce, and pickle relishes may not pack the same calories, but they can be full of added sugar and sodium. If you prefer saucier foods, stick with lighter options like brown mustard or those that use fresh vegetables like pico de gallo.
Choosing a fat-free dressing
Fat-free salad dressings may be low in calories, but they can reduce the nutritional potential of your salad. Research shows that adding heart-healthy fat to a salad helps the body absorb the valuable fat soluble vitamins in the vegetables. Skip fat-free dressings and add a drizzle of olive oil with balsamic vinegar or a few slices of avocado.
Too many toppings
Cheese, butter and margarine, sour cream, dried fruits, and mayonnaise-based dressings are just a few of toppings that cause the calories and unhealthy fat to pile up. Sprinkle and drizzle lightly and try swapping them for healthier options like salsa, fresh herbs, olive oil, Greek yogurt, and fresh fruits.
Ignoring portion sizes
Controlling portion sizes is one of the best ways to enjoy your favorite foods and satisfy cravings without getting off track. One small cookie after dinner will likely only add 100 extra calories to your day, but an extra-large cookie is like eating a fourth meal. A grilled burger at the neighborhood cookout can work into a healthy eating plan, but a ½ pound restaurant burger loaded with toppings can contain a whole day’s worth of calories.
Store-bought sauces, marinades, and seasoning packets often have added sugar and excess sodium. It only takes a few minutes and a few extra ingredients to make your own. Whether it’s a sauce for a stir-fry, marinara, or a rub for grilled meats, making your own allows you to control ingredients that contain salt, sugar, and trans fat.
Passing up plain
Frozen and canned vegetables can be a healthy option, but added flavorings can ruin the nutritional benefits. Some frozen vegetables contain sauces and seasonings that add unhealthy fat and sodium. Canned foods can be high in sodium and sugar. Check to make sure that the vegetables are the only thing listed on the ingredient list and look for “low sodium,” “no salt added,” and “low sugar.” This allows you to season the food to your tastes, often reducing excess calories, fat, sodium, and sugar.